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Kumar Hassan

KUMAR HASSAN,1962 is a well decorated poet, born in Samblpur Town and grew upin paternal hamlet on the bank of Hirakud Dam Reservoir,Bichchedgarh in Jharsuguda Dist. in Orissa. His father late Moulana Mustakim Khan Gountia was an eminent local amateur vocalist, instrumental music artist, astrologist and mother Late JubeidaBai a housewife. He has so far more than forty books both in Oria and Hindi to his credit. His works have been translated into many national languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi, Marathi, Telugu and foreign languages such asEnglish, Russian, German, French. He has received numerous national and international awards for his poetry and has also been felicitated by many cultural and literary organisations all over the country. Mr Kumar Hasan has been associated with left democratic movement in Odisha. A journalist by profession while a poet activist by heart, he was in various movements and wrote extensively against the exploitation of Odisha’s natural resources by the various government who sold them to corporate. We are sharing this important conversation of Mr Kumar Hassan with Mr Vidya Bhushan Rawat who met him Odisha during his visit and followed it up further through email.

VB:You have been a very senior journalist in Odisha, who has reported about the corporate attempts to take over tribal land, forest, and mining resources. Is media silent about these issues or supporting them?

KH: The role of media in said subject is pitiable and apathetic atlarge. Media is not so silent as it cleverly wants to protect its face. It merely reports and ends its responsibility. The reporting is just favourable to corporate houses, and the government is therefore under-reporting the problems of the people. It is neither compassionate to tribal, nor does it recognise their legitimate land rights, forest or mining resources. Political parties or frontal organisations or NGOs seldom raise voice for the people, but whenever they raise it, it is basicallyto increase their funds. In worst case, it is safe reporting of the matter to mould peoples’ view to cooperate on developmental issues for their unknown betterment and that of the nation. Media never crosses its self-imposed limits, as it has to get advertisements. It never thinks to rouse mass consciousness or to protect or protest or guide in peoples’ cause. This type of attitude is more dangerous than silence itself.

VB: What is the situation inside the newsrooms? How powerful are the editors? Are they still concerned about people or corporate pressure is too much on them?

KH: To be very frank, situation inside the newsroomsis dark and very gloomy. After the press became an industry, editors have lost their power, and have just become paid servants of the management. And the management, especially the business executives, are on prime lead. They decide the fate of news. Let people or their plight go to hell, only the turnout should be outstanding.

VB: You have exposed many illegal deals in Odisha. How strong is the politician-media-corporate nexus in hiding the information from the people?

KH: I am suffering for my revelations for the ordinary people. The politician-media-corporate house nexus is very strong in shape of cash or kind or power. Many threats, false criminal case and intimidations have been used to suppress the information from reporters and the people. Everyone is out to yield their harvest out of impure waters.

VB: It is said that media must reflect the ethnic and communal diversity in the newsrooms, but studies shows that the presence of Dalits, aadivasis, Muslims, women etc in Indian media is the lowest. What is the situation in Odisha related to this? Are there journalists, columnists, editors from these sections of society?

KH: You have rightly observed the situation. Regarding Odisha, there are several reasons, as are elsewhere, due to which the educational status of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Women etc. in Odisha is very poor. Especially the presence of these groups in print media is less than the electronic media, where presence of some talented youngsters in entry-level positionscan be observed. But things are changing these days because youngsters from such strata are showing their talent and activities and competing with the privileged class. But if I am not mistaken, there is not a single Muslim woman in the print or electronic media in Odisha so far.

VB: What is the political situation in Odisha right now? The Naveen Patnaik government cannot be said to be pro-Dalits, aadivasis or OBCs, as it has been opposing reservation against themat all cost. Odisha has invited foreign investments and displaced tribal population in the name of development. Now, the Hindutva sympathisers are trying to capture the imagination of the people in the name of alternative. With no forces of left, Dalit Bahujans and Congress, do you think BJP chances to come to power in Odisha are possible?

KH: The political situation in Odisha is gruesome. Biju Janata Dal’s Naveen government is not pro-people. Though Odisha is the stronghold of Naveen, BJP is playing all its trump cards with monetary and physicalstrength, appeasing to have-nots with mounting dreams for a bright future, dolingPadmashrees and other recognitions, building temples, clubs, so-called cultural and sport hubs, mainly in remote rural areas to attract Dalits, SC, STS etc. Hence it is ridiculous to assess the future of the state. Naveenji is a silent killer, or, say, a slow poison in politics, playing his own game confidently and silently. On the contrary BJP is a nationwide party ruling in alliance with likeminded parties in the country with all corporate and multinational houses, and with huge funds, with a number of arrogant caste goons masquerading as leaders. Hence the competition is neck to neck. Still the Naveen magic may work. Vote has become a ridiculous franchise in India. The conscious people are reluctant to go out for vote for fear and thus it has become a one day earning trade for poor for their survival. They are least concerned about country. Hunger is their country. They do not go beyond that and their innocence is an annoyance.

VB:  There is wide spread untouchability in Odisha. Caste system operates here with brahmanical order remaining intact due to cultural practices and temple politics. Why has Odisha, which was the land of Ashoka and Buddhism, today become the main land of brahmanism?

KH: In Odisha, it is true; the caste discrimination is beyond imagination. Untouchability still exists. Caste system is in full operation. Some of the major religious doctrines of India, Jainism and Buddhism,wereprevalent in Odisha, along with tribal religious beliefs. Jainism was in its highest order in the first century BC. Vaishnavism in  the 11th century was established on the pyre of Jainism, before the advent of Brahmanism. But with the advent of Brahmanism in Odisha the tribal village deities were co-opted in Hindu religion. The tribal god Neelamadhav from interior tribal hinterland of Koraput, was snatched away to Puri tactfully, the capital of Brahmanism, and Jagannathised, and the three idols erected therein were then regarded as the symbol of Jainism, Buddhism, Vaishnavism, Shaivaism and Shaktism imbued totally to Brahmanism, just to stay away from protest. Brahmanism became very popular and King AnangaBheemDev ofPuri, the capital of Jagannath cult, made Jagannath the presiding deity of his vast kingdom, while other religious orders were thrown away or ignored. Thus, Odisha became mainland of Brahmanism. Brahmins with royal patronage became advisors to the state, having all religious rights to bestow Heaven and Hell in their hands. Brahmanism is deeply rooted in the Chaturvarna system, erected by the Brahmanical scripture and the communal policy of the government, with the sky rocketing rising of BJP and strong backing of RSS and its allies for throne and to Hindutva-ise India. Lack of pro-people education system in the country, multiple communal schools as SaraswatiVidyaMandir etc., high percentage of uppercastes in government and offices are some main reasons. Besides, the personnel from lower castes enjoying high official rank are neo-brahmanising themselves and they forget, ignore and hate the roots they are from. This is analarming phenomenonall over India.

VB:  When and why did Buddhism decline in Odisha?

KH: The decline of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent has been attributed to various factors, especially the regionalization of ancient India after the end of the Gupta empire (320-650 CE), which led to a competition with Hinduism and Jainism and the loss of patronage and donations; and the conquest and subsequent persecutions by the Huns, then Muslim Turks and Persians particularly from the 10th century onwards. Buddhism largely disappeared from most of India with the Muslim conquests of the Indian subcontinent.  After the end of the Gupta Empire (c. 320– 650 CE), power became decentralised in India, and Buddhism started to lose financial support from the seventh century onward. The disintegration of central power also led to regionalisation of religiosity, and religious rivalry.This fragmentation of power into feudal kingdoms was detrimental for Buddhism, with royal support shifting toward Hindu and Jain communities. Buddhism’s distinctiveness got diminished with the rise of Hindu sects. Though Mahayana writers were quite critical of Hinduism, the devotional cults of Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism likely seemed quite like laity, and the developing Tantrism of both religions were also similar. Buddhist ideas, and even the Buddha himself, were absorbed and adapted into orthodox Hindu thought. With the growing support for Hindusim and Jainism, Buddhist monasteries also gradually lost control of land revenue. The Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent was the first great iconoclastic invasion into the Gangetic plains, Orissa, north-east and the southern regions of India, Buddhism survived through the early centuries of the 2nd millennium CE. Hundreds of Buddhist monasteries and shrines were destroyed; Buddhist texts were burnt by the Muslim armies, monks and nuns killed during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Gangetic plains region.

VB: What is the status of Dalits and Adivasis in Odisha? I mean they are in substantial number yet Odisha’s mainstream politics of Congress, BJD and now the Left have never really appreciated the issue of reservation. Even today, the funds under SCSPs and TSP are being used for other purposes. There is no independent leadership from these sections. In the forests too, it is alleged, no independent leadership of Adivasis is allowed to lead as the dominant forces from Andhra-Telangana lead the movement. What is your view?

KH: Definitelythe status of Dalits and Adivasis in Odisha is very grim. Mainstream political parties headed by upper castes, mostly Brahmins, have no interest for the cause of these people. They try to use them somewhat as their Vote Bank, alluring them with various cash and kind offers for their immediate needs such as money, clothes, liquor. Furthermore, government has their legalised bribery through Mid-Day Meal in schools, Anganvadis, one-rupee per kilo subsidised rice, five-rupee meals and funding SHGs etc. SCSP/TSP funds are definitely diverted. No independent leadership of the Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is groomed or developedfor politics. The leadership in mainstream is governed by upper class and obviously such stray leaders from Dalits and OBCs become their spoon and indulge in anti-people work. Some former ministers, MPs, MLAs, Opposition leaders have emerged but they are mostly from the privileged classes of Dalits and OBCs and not from the Tribal groups. But as soon as they are on the top they begin turning themselves into Christianizedupper-class strata and ignore their roots. This Neo-Brahmanism is most dangerous than Brahmanism itself. They let their ethnic identity and their community languish in deprivation, exploitation, political by virtue of state apathy, and underdevelopment, lack of education, poor healthcare becomes the reality. One can see some independent and natural leadership among tribal groups in conflict zones and in their movements such as in NiyamgirimorKashipur, Kalinganagar and anti-Posco movements. Except Niyamgiri, most of other movements were leaded by either outside NGO activists or Left front parties leaded by the Brahmins and Brahmanism. But ultimately such militant leaders of one time fell prey to company and state agencies. Andhra-Telengana lead confined to some specific area in border Odisha. They do not bar independent leadership of tribal groups, they rather encourage them to stand for their genuine cause and rights. But it is a matter of sadness that most of them after having state intimidation, constant threat, encounter, false criminal cases, abduction, rape and many more alluring rewards, freehand facilities, economic benefit etc. suppressive measure by state are broken becoming police informers, or are abducted or killed by state by way of accusations of Maoism. But the illustration of hired and paid media makes the situation disheartening for the people atlarge. Due to heavy vigilance, the jungle militants do not get any free and frequent opportunity to make the matter clear, and don’t get timely help. To make the matter more clear, I would rather say that the average percentage of Dalits and Adivasis in Odisha are respectively 27% and 29%. Overall percentage of these two groups including OBCs is 40% in Odisha. STs are not included in OBC. Tribal groups are the most underdeveloped class in Odisha, having no any facilities like education, healthcare, electricity, drinking water etc. They are the poorest among poor, having no land for them. The ratio of landless tribal and Dalits is 90 in Odisha. Tribal groups always depend upon nature for their survival and when their source of survival is attacked by means of mining, deforestation, their forest and forest land plundered, their river and rivulets dried, indigenous medicinal herbs and their deities destroyed by state and displaced, for the benefit of the company-multinational nexus, then they rise for their lives. They areready to sacrifice their lives for the cause, and to save their coming generations. It is a struggle for their life and the bounty of nature. India is heading towards a developed capitalist country, thereby destroying every norm of law and constitution, killing and destroying its own people and environment in the name of development. Extraction of mineral wealth of tribal area in disguise of developmental policy is murderous for the tribal, the son of nature. The so-called economic liberalization has hurt India and its interior jungle folk the most. Likewise, reservation policy has become uselessfor tribals. Where there is no education, the reservation policy is meaningless. Only the Dalits and OBCs are privileged by such alluring policy to some extent in clerical opportunities.

VB:  You mentioned that 1857 was not the first war of independence but much before it was the revolt in Odisha by the Adivasis and other people. What was it and when did it happen? What was the ultimate result? Could you please explain about it in detail?

KH: The 1857 war was not the First War of Independence of India, as popularly defined by Karl Marx. Due to lack of proper information on that time, he could not have information about the continuous armed struggle by tribal heads of Sambalpur region against the British as much as three decades prior to 1857. The flame to throw away British subjugation was set alight and fought in various fronts in this highland of western Odisha. However, it was not so organised and comprised of many stray incidents. But the tribal armed protest in such pockets against the British and their allies wereprevalent in the area. The Gond Zamindar of the then Bisheikela, present Bheden under Bargarh district, led an armed struggle with his native troop and indigenous weaponry on July 23, 1830, against the Sambalpur royal army and Britishers. He attacked the state godown of Ratnakumari, the then queen of Sambalpur, at Padmapur and for granting a lease of hundred acres land to a British man for cotton cultivation. The ‘Khamar’ was smashed to dust and set fire. Britishers killed. King of the then Khariar state KrushnaRaiactively took part with his men in the attack. In retaliation in this attack, as per the order of Capt. Wilkinson an enriched British troop came to Sambalpur to assist Sambalpur troop on Dec 16, 1830, to avenge ZamindarAbdhut Singh. Tribal men with their traditional armoury were confronted at Papanga Hills with united British force Of Sambalpur. Hundreds of soldiers were killed and fled away notwithstanding the tribal army. But due to modern guns and canons it was difficult for tribal army to stay standing for a long time. But after a fierce struggle some of the supporters of the Abdhut Singh were killed, and some surrendered,however he managed to fly to Debrigarh Hill Fort of the rebel tribal ZamindarBalabhadra Singh Dao of Lakhanpur. Abdhut Singh was being chased by SubedarGurdayalTewari of Ramgarh Battalion and Dewan Jaya Bohidar of royal army of Sambalpur. But they were fiercely attacked by tribal guerrilla troops of Lakhanpur in Barapahar Ranges. BargarhZamindar Thakur Ajit Singh, KolabiraZamindarGovind Singh also assisted Abdhut Singh in combat against the united force of Sambalpur. But the united force failed miserably to trace Abdhut Singh and hopelessly returned. Later, the Queen tried to allure him with many rewards but Abdhut Singh refused such stuff and his resistance became fierce ever after. On Jan 8,1831,Abdhut Singh, along with Balabhadra Singh Dao, attacked Ramgarh Battalion and set fire to their camp while in a village. KharmundaZamindarMediniBariha, PahadSrigidaZamindarTrilochan Rai and almost all tribal chieftains of the region fought against the British at Barapahad Hills, Papanga Hills, Dhama etc. This resistance was widely supported by the oppressed people and tenants of the region. The tribal Kondh chieftain Baba MituKunwar of Kudopali, Brajrajnagar under present-dayJharsugurah dist. fought bravely againstBritish troops protestingexcessiveincreases in land revenue and curbing their land-holding rights and ultimately became a martyr. KolabiraZamindarGovind Singh attacked Sambalpur, which was under the British as per doctrine of lapse, being a legitimate successor of the throne. KhindaZamindarBalaramSai, the uncle of Veer Surendra Sai, the unbeatable hero of 1857, attacked Rampur fort protesting the removal of a tribal Zamindar and being replaced by one higher caste Zamindar from U.P. He killed the Zamindar’s family along with their British protectors and torched his fort and houses to ash. In 1857 the GhessZamindarMadho Singh was publicly hanged at Sambalpur without any trial. There after his son Kunjal Singh, Hatte Singh, Bairi Singh and friend Shaligram Singh Bariha continued the resistance struggle upto 1860 and lateron they were pardoned. Furthermore,Hatte Singh was arrested and deported to Andaman, where he died in cellular jail, becoming the first Odia martyr. Ghesswas the only hamlet and tribal ZamindarMadho Singh is the only rebel in historywhose entire family including his five sons, and a daughter and his husband [Zamindar of Sonakhan, presently in Chhatisgarh] had been sacrificed to anti-British struggle. Likewise, the British who claim of crushing down the Indian rebellion upto December 1857 had proved to be futile in Sambalpur and adjoining areas. After the so-called suppression of the sepoy mutiny in December1857, and surrender and arrest of Surendra Sai, the hero of 1857 movement in the areas and his leading friends theZamindars and Gountias, it was the Sambalpur whose two brave sons tribal Zamindar of Lakhanpur and Chief Commander of native guerrilla troop of Surendra Sai, Kamal Singh Dao and the GondZamindar of GhessKunjal Singh, carried on their mission of independence and fought against the British and all their allies in jungles, wherever they got a chance with all oddities and difficulties of life upto two decades more, until they were beheaded by some local traitor near Bargarh. This is the very unknown fact of our history and details could be found in my Odia book ‘SambalpurarcSwadhinataSangram’[Freedom movement of Sambalpur] published by Sambalpur University.

VB:  Several months ago an Adivasi poet HemantDalapati was suspended from his job as a teacher in a school. What could have been the reason for this? Why there is not much hue and cry over this in the Odisha media?

KH: The only reason behind the illegal suspension is that he is a tribal, thinks for the tribal, writes for the tribal and also works for the tribal and Dalits at large, against caste discrimination, illegal mining, deforestation, land acquisition for business houses, displacement and other socio-economic-political causes related to underdevelopment of the have-nots. Hence he was under governmental surveillance since long. Police was collecting reports on his activities and the suspension was based on police report furnished to education dept. under which ShriDalapati is an employee. But the procedure of suspension is illegal, viz. when he got the show-cause notice through post, the same day he got his order for suspension from his office DIET. This was to curb the voice of a young poet-activist at the beginning. But as he is a Dalit, from lower strata, and a leading voice in Odia poetry, the so called mainliners are in envy. That’s the very reason that there was no so much hue and cry in Odisha, and media except some progressive, Janabadi, Dalit organisations.

VB: I heard about your own struggle, personal boycott and lots more. As a Muslim, you must have come across discrimination at various places, but what is more painful is about your boycott from your village community. Please explain in detail as what were the reasons and what is the situation now?

KH: I belong to such a remote village far away from communication and education, situated in the periphery area of Hirakud Reservoir. Our village is a tribal village headed by a Muslim Gountia [Landlord]. The village lacked proper education system. All village Muslimsexcept one land-lord family, were not educated either in Urdu or Odia. There was only one MoulviSahab stationed in a Masjid, a blind one both in physical and knowledge, removed from so many places, teaching some primary Urdu alphabets to some reluctant Muslim children. The masjid was our ancient house donated by my father Late Mustakim Khan for Muslims as he had constructed a new house and hamlet Bichhedgarh near the village and had shifted. Before that there was no masjid. The Moulvi tried to teach some religious taboos and wanted to spread hatred towards Hindu community and others taking advantage of their ignorance. I was the young boy in my teens, a voracious reader, protesting these things when I was a high school student. I had gone through The Gita and The Quran by PanditSundarlal and Tarzumanul Quran by MaulanaAbulKalam Azad, which influenced me a lot, along with the books on communism and Kahlil Gibran. I tried to translate some portion of Maulana Azad’s book into Odia to eradicate the wrong positions of Hinduclerics on Islam. I wrote to Dr. H. K. Mahtab, the then Governor of Bombay and Editor of the dailiesPrajatantra and Jhankarwhich were published from Cuttack. Dr.Mahtab was so pleased with my letter that he published it as an article in his daily which gained large response from the readers. Dr.Mahtab also wrote me a letter with request to send the translation, which was serialised weekly in the newspaper for more than a year. The said Maulviconvinced the local Muslim community that I was engrossed in anti-Islamic and blasphemous activities translating the pious Quran into Odia, the language of Kafirs, those who urinate while standing, eat pigs etc. The community became apathetic towards me having no any fair knowledge about Quran and Islam. The utterings of the cleric was regarded as Quran and Islam by them, and I was thought as a great sinner and anti-religious Kafir, trying to destroy Islam and disregarding the Holy Quran. Meanwhile, one more incident enraged the village Hindu community against me and two of my young friends namely ChaitanyaKanta and AkruraDhurua, a Dalit and tribal,Gond. We had demanded that Dalits could not be barred to fetch drinking water from a governmentdug well in the village. We disregarded untouchability. But the high caste Hindus were reluctant to give them the right to draw water and the community, especially women folk, were suffering a lot of scarcity of drinking water, and they had to walkmiles to a stream or a pond in that arid area, suffering a lot in blazing summer and rainy days. The hatred of the both communities fell upon us in the village Chariot Festival Day and we three were attacked and thrashed publicly. I was thrown unconscious in the fields. As I was deemed the leader, I was locked in a dilapidated hut outside the village and the plan was to set fire to it, but an elderly man rescued me and then I was thrown to fields in the evening. I was rescued by my widowed mother along with an old servant in the prime of the night. Situation was so tense and grave that on the very same night all three of us were shifted to police station by police for our safety. The next morning thousands of villagers gheraoed the Police Station to release us unconditionally and immediately branding us the innocent sons of the village. While they had threatened in the village that whosoever dare to reveal the truth about the attacks, the houses of such person would be set ablaze along with their family. Later, after a case for 10 long years made all 20 persons arrested and bail free. These were some basic reasons behind my ostracisation. However, we succeeded in our mission and the dugwell was open for all. But I was a victim of purportedly anti-Islamviews with a tacit support of the upper-caste Hindus as the Muslim Landlord was the former ruling head of the village and he was against me. So, I did not get any support from them though the headman was a communist. I was excommunicated from the Muslim community without any support of the Hindu villagers, and all shops, bazars were closed for me. There was nobody to work in our field so our field remained uncultivated and barren for years, leading us to starve, and I was forced to move away from my village to earn something for survival. I have seen the dreadful days of hunger, poverty, helplessness and despair. I was even unable to treat my ailing old mother properly. Meanwhile, I moved to Kantabanji and workedodd jobs in an oil mill, gudakhu factory, cinema hall, hide collection etc. I came forward to save one of my seriously ill sister-in-law, who was a divorcee and her only child was dead and she was maltreated by her family and was thrown by some neighbours in government hospital Sambalpur without any attendant. When I got the news that she wanted to see me before her death, I rushed to Sambalpur with pursuance of my mother and saw her in coma stage since last fortnight. Doctors were unable to detect the disease and some speculated it was some form of depression. I managed to stay there and attended to her with much difficulty with debts from friends for medicine and food, and facing protests from her family members. After some days of my attendance and with special care of some kind-hearted and sympathetic Doctors, she came to her senses and cried for whom she would live, as nobody cares for her. It was the crucial point for me to take a bold decisionto make her survive at any cost. I made her believe that she has to live whatever be, at least for me. After a good deal of reluctance and advise of Doctors, she agreed and we got married in Kantabanji masjid with opposition from her family, as she was older than me. When I came back after many years to my native village with a new born baby, my mother and the same Muslims raised questions on the legitimacy of my marriage. My challenge for verification of marriage certificate from Kantabanji Masjid on my own cost was not granted and I stayedadamant on my stand. I was denied to doKafan and Dafani.e. the last rights of my mother, which was later done by some older men as my mother was not a culprit but her crime was that she was related to me. With my late elder brother’s intervention and helpless request we were forced to remarry on the third day of my mother’s death with a one year girl child in lap and our excommunication was lifted after long 8 years. My late mother was my strength. She asked repeatedly to not bow down before injustice, let whatever be the consequence.

VB:  How did you get influenced by Marxism or Communism? Was there a crisis in the family related to this? What about your parents? What were they doing? Did they try to stop you from joining the left politics?

KH: In school days, I was deeply moved by history of French Revolution and October Revolution. These impressed me deeply and I was in a thirst to know more about communism. My elder step-brother was an active member of CPI and I got a chance to get books on the subject from him. Besides our constituency was led by eminent CPI MLA late Prasanna Kumar Panda for more than six terms. He was a veteran and a dedicated mass leader even who had protested the establishment of a seed farm in the Hirakud Periphery area which was going to be established with collaboration of the then USSR. He fought lifelong for the displaced of the Hirakud Dam, for their proper compensation and rehabilitation. He left his bright career as an artist and sculptor for service of the people of theunderprivileged remote rural areas far from development. He was a true friend for poor people irrespective of parties and class, whose door was open day and night both in his village nearer to us and also in capital. He was such a man of principle that he never criticized any rival candidates personally in electoral campaign. His criticism was based on policy of the rival Party. Even the rival candidates were had high regard for them. His influence was such that the whole constituency was imbued in communism atlarge and had become a stronghold of Party and organisation. I was deeply influenced by him from my childhood and became a member of CPI later age and directly worked under him in my village Branch and District. I collected many books on Marxism, Leninism, Maoism and on Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, El Salvador, South Africa, Latin America etc from him, Party office, embassy of the USSR and from various Publishing Houses. Though my father was a staunch Gandhian still he did not discourage me. He was a former village landlord with magisterial power and my mother loved me and she always encouraged me to do whatever I can to serve the poor and go against all injustice, oppression, exploitation and so on.

VB: What has been your experience with the Left today? Why has it become a non-entity in Odisha? Has it failed to raise the issue of Dalits, marginalised and Adivasis? Why is there not much interest among these segments towards the left perspective? Is it because left never nurtured leadership from these communities and was always dominated by the powerful Brahmanical interest groups?

KH: The experience with the Lefttoday has been bitter as I was deeply influenced by Marxism and Leninism. I saw the opposite of what I had learned. When I became the Dist. Council Member of undivided Sambalpur, Zonal Secretary, Secy. Brajraj Nagar Coal Mines Union and subsequently Chair Person of the Sub-Control Commission. Odisha, I saw the organisational fluctuations under our so-called veteran old members especially from upper-class and castes. They are neitherfor the regional development nor for the cause of Tribal, Dalit or OBCs. They pretend to be with the people, because they have no ground to fight with Feudalism and opened to direct capitalists.The organisational set up was going parallel like other self-interested Parties, and was beyond control. There was also some type of those who built the personality cult destroying the norm of the party. I opted for a total change in organisational set up, organised and strongly stressed on party classes, expelled some octogenarian members indulged in malpractice in the name of party, changed the Party office setup, membership drive pattern etc. for which I was severely attacked and brandished with many false allegations. I challenged to prove any of them in open public meeting in concerned areas. But it was not done and many tricks were played upon me to make me look guilty. This made me distressed and I filed an ultimatum for total restructuring of the Party, failing which I would hand my resignation from primary membership. But no step was taken by Higher Council. It was against my ideal and therefore I kept myself awayfrom the Party until now. Ultimately for such reasons the party has lost its base in Odisha. Now the party exist in some meetings, demonstrations, press releases, press conferences and on some paper work far from people, a non-entity in Odisha. It has failed to raise the issue of Dalits, marginalised and Adivasis. It is hard to be a true communist and it is easier to show as a communist for some personal gain. So, obviously there is not much interest among these segments towards the left perspective. Party never nurtured leadership from downtrodden communities and was always dominated by the powerful Brahmanical interest groups. It is also true in the fields of CPIM and other such parties being headed by upper caste persons.

VB: Have you ever got threat of intimidation for the work you are doing as a journalist? Please share with us.

KH:  When one of my article criticising the corrupt status of law education and helplessness of judiciary system was published in a prominent newspaper the Prajatantra in late eighties, I was threatened to be killed by some corrupt member of the Sambalpur Bar. Even the then CM late J. B. Pattanaik directed SP to provide me and my family Police protection, which I denied. The RDC provided me with an armed escort without my knowledge. Later when the issue turned to be Bar versus Press, and there were state-wide protest by all section of progressive people, the issue was solved in the session’s court. Further, for my uncompromising literature I have several times been threatened by AnandMargis and the RSS. Severe scolding and show cause notices are the regular price which I have paid and now made seat without any responsive work in office.

VB: How do you propose to bring various marginalised sections of Odisha together to fight against the brahmanical dominance?

KH: It is very hard but not impossible to bring various marginalised sections bring together to fight against the brahmanical dominance. It depends on many complicated factors. There are many ethnic, cultural, religious, political differences among the sections,exacerbated by party politics. The people of these sections are not aware of their political rights and are easily swayed by alluring cash and kind offered byself-interestedpoliticians. To make them aware and to unite them with fraternal love, amity and peaceful coexistence, we first need proper education. Repeated counselling through their educated persons is also a must. They have to be taught to preserve their self-dignity and self-reverence and to stick to their ethnic identity and community.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter @freetohumanity Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

One Comment

  1. Nisar Ahammad Nisar says:

    We respect always such a great personality and hope their contribution to the livelihood thanks